Elizabeth De La Piedra: What It Costs to Be Me

These days it’s nearly impossible to know what women are spending on the way they look. Someone with Instagram-flawless contouring might have honed her craft using the finest from the drugstore aisles, and the utterly makeup-free type might be spending thousands on laser treatments and serums. Enter our series, “What It Costs to Be Me,” where we’re asking interesting women for radical transparency.

Up this week: Elizabeth De La Piedra, 32, photographer and mother of two from Chicago, Illinois. Her annual total? $4,454.50

Elizabeth De La Piedra is a beauty omnivore: she’s as enthusiastic detailing the many merits of a $5 brown eyeliner as she is describing the skin-transforming power of a $500 laser treatment. Her bottom line: it’s got to work, and she knows exactly how it all fits into her budget. Her top priorities are skin care (“a good cleanser, exfoliating system, serum or oil, and a moisturizer”) and nails. “I’d truly cut back on everything else before I’d give up the joy it gives me to look down and see the color and symmetry of having my nails done,” she says.

My shower and hair regimen: $189:

My skin and my hair are both kind of the same: it’s all very dry and very coarse. So I always need to exfoliate and moisturize my skin, and I constantly need to add moisture to my hair and not wash it too often—once or twice a week max. I use Aveda Be Curly shampoo and conditioner ($25 each), and brush my hair in the shower with a wide tooth comb ($3). For my body, I use Glossier Body Hero Oil Wash ($18) with exfoliating gloves ($7). I love the way that body wash smells—it’s kind of floral but also woody, so it’s a sexy-fresh smell, if that makes sense. And because it’s an oil wash it’s not too bubbly; anything too bubbly will dry my skin out.

Once I’m out of the shower, I always put in Aveda Damage Remedy ($30) leave-in conditioner. Then I spray Aveda Texture Tonic ($25) onto my wet hair—it activates my curls and helps to separate and define them. Once that dries a bit, my hair starts to get kind of fluffy, and I work in some Aveda Light Element Texturizing Creme ($25) to control the fluff and add a little moisture and hold. And then if I need to, I use Aveda Control Force Firm Hold Hairspray ($31) for any flyaways.

My curl pattern is actually kind of tight, but because of the length right now, it makes everything a bit heavier and elongates the curls. I still struggle getting my hair just right, even at 32. It doesn’t help that our hair changes with time, too. Six years ago my hair needed heavier products, but after I had my babies I needed something a little lighter.

My morning skin care routine: $200

I wash my face with Tula Purifying Cleanser ($28), then layer on Glossier Super Bounce Serum ($28), which has lots of hyaluronic acid for moisturizing. After my serum, I use Tula Hydrating Day and Night Cream ($52). I like Tula a lot—I’ve found that its products are really good for balancing my skin. This cream has given me good, consistently clear skin—and it’s very hydrating, which I also need. I’ve always struggled with being somehow both too dry and also a little oily. I tend to break out because when I fidget or get nervous, I touch my face. I’m a big fidgeter. I try to be good, though, and if I ever do break out I clean it up with a little Clearasil spot treatment ($7).

After my moisturizer comes Supergoop 50+ Super Power Sunscreen Mousse ($34). I love the light mousse texture, and it absorbs so nicely. There’s something about the formula that kind of makes you a little glowy underneath everything. For my body, I use my Go-To Body Oil ($51). The line is from Australia, where I grew up. When I tried it the first time, I became obsessed—the floral scent smells like heaven. I’m into a good scent, I like being swept up in that.

My daytime makeup: $244.50

I go for a natural look, but kind of a turned-up natural. I use Glossier Stretch Concealer in dark ($18), then rub Glossier’s Cloud Paint gel-cream blush in the new bright orange, Dawn ($18), at the base of my cheeks. And then on the apples of my cheeks, I use just a little Storm or Haze ($18 each), which are both pink. Then I use my NYX brown eye pencil ($5) for both eyes and lips. It’s this dark brown with a warm base to it. It helps open my eyes because black liner during the day is too heavy for me—and on my lips, that same color helps show the shape of my lips and keep my lips from blending in too much with the rest of my skin. Because I’m darker—I’m Peruvian—that dark brown is the only thing that shows up. Other actual lip liners I’ve tried just kind of look invisible.

Next I pop on my lip balm and lip color, and then rub my lips to blend it all. My balm is Glossier Balm Dotcom ($12), and I alternate between clear and cherry. Then I usually blot on my MAC lipstick in Hot Tahiti. Tragically, I think it’s discontinued—I’m so sad! It’s the most perfect pink: a little bit mauve and a little bit sheer, but if you build it up it can get darker and brighter. My alternative to it is the Generation G Glossier Lipstick in Crush ($18). And then every so often I’ll do a red lip: I outline my whole lip in MAC Lip Pencil in Cherry ($18), add my NYX brown liner in the corners, fill in with MAC Ruby Woo lipstick ($18.50), then rub my lips together to blend everything nicely.

For my brows I use Glossier Boy Brow in both brown and clear ($16 each). I use the brown to fill in the spaces and spots, and then use the clear to shape everything. Then I brush on Benefit They’re Real! Lengthening Mascara ($25). For highlighter, I apply Glossier Haloscope in Quartz ($22) high up on my cheekbones, on my brow bone, and on the tip of my nose. In the summer I use Glossier Wowder in Light/Medium ($22) to bring down shine. It’s almost clear, and yet it gives me a little bit of coverage, which is nice. It takes a lot to make me look natural!

My going-out makeup look: $195

Any time I’m getting my makeup done on a shoot, I’ll have the makeup artist use my Super Bounce Serum on me first—unless I’m hungover, in which case I’ll go for the Super Glow Serum ($28). And any time I’m going out at night I always put on another layer of the Bounce first. I think you’re only supposed to do it once a day, but whatever! At night, I use the same makeup as daytime, plus I’ll wear foundation. I cocktail my own mixture: 2/3 Glossier Skin Tint in dark ($26) mixed with 1/3 Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation ($64). Most foundations are too thick and cakey for my skin. The Glossier Skin Tint is lightweight enough—but a little too lightweight. Blending the two is perfect, because it gives enough coverage and it doesn’t look like it’s sitting on top of my skin. I also like to use my favorite shadow colors from my Anastasia Soft Glam Eyeshadow Palette ($42). I usually blend one, two, or three in a combo: Orange Soda, Burnt Orange, Sienna, Rustic, Cyprus Umber, Rose Pink and Sultry. They go from orangey to pinky-browny, all in that color world. I sometimes add a little cat-eye with Revlon ColorStay Liquid Eye Pen in Black 001 ($9), just a really thin line to extend the look of my lashes. I usually do my NYX brown liner very close to my lashline, but for a nighttime look, I might also smudge in a little more of the darkest shadow from the Anastasia palette close to my lashes. At the end of everything, I use MAC Prep + Prime Fix Setting Spray ($26), and then finish with the Wowder.

My (bargain) evening skin care: $124

I take my makeup off with Lancome Bi-Facil Eye Makeup Remover ($30), then use the Tula cleanser again, layer on Go-To Skin Face Oil ($45), and once that sinks in I pop my moisturizer on top. I’ve been using Elucent Night Moisturizer ($35), which I got in Australia and it’s amazing. My sister lives there, and a dermatologist suggested this cream to her. The next time I came to visit I was like, “What are you doing to your skin, and why do you look like you have no pores?” I had to get it. It basically exfoliates your face overnight—and it’s cheap! I also put Skyn Iceland Berry Lip Fix ($14) on before bed to help repair and replenish my lips while I sleep.

My perfume favorites: $434

These days for perfume I’m loving Byredo 1996 ($190). There’s just something about woody, musky scents that feels more human than something that’s really really clean or fresh. One of my favorite photographer duos, Inez and Vinoodh, created the Byredo 1996 as a capsule perfume the year I turned 30. Inez is so inspiring, so I had to buy it for myself. It’s something I tend to wear for a fancy thing at night—when I’m going out or when I’m on dates with my husband. But during the day I like to wear Margiela Lazy Sunday Morning ($126)—it’s more of a nostalgic scent for me because it smells like fresh linens. I also sometimes wear Glossier You ($60) for daytime—it’s a good size and durable. I try to keep one in my bag for when I need a spritz, just because I’m a smelly girl. And when I want a sexy, sexy, sexy scent, I use Narciso Rodriguez For Her ($56). I call it “The Husband Catcher,” because that’s how I got my man. I’ve been wearing it for over 10 years. It’s so good.

My brand-new hair maintenance routine: roughly $800 so far

For years I’ve been touching up my grays with Garnier Olia in Darkest Brown ($10) every 3 to 4 weeks. It was a lucky find. I found the Olia when I first moved to America eight years ago, and I’ve been using it ever since. I tried a different brand once and it burned my scalp—never again! Always the Olia, just on the roots.

That said, I just got my hair dyed professionally. I got two blond streaks in the front this past week, and they’re really fun. I met a hairstylist I liked on a photo shoot and she came to my house to do my hair here. Her name is Leatrice Lloyd. It was about $200 for a cut and color, and she did my roots too. Ordinarily I just trim my hair about three times a year—it’s roughly $200 at Spoke and Weal, and I go to anyone there, because I really like how they cut hair. But now that I’ve gotten the blond streaks, I don’t know what that’s going to cost me. The idea is that every month Leatrice is going to come back and do touchups and dye my roots, so it’s a whole new ballgame! And I’m about to invest in a toner for blond hair.

My non-negotiable nail treatments: $800 a year

I get acrylic nails done every two weeks ($25). And I get a brand-new set about every two months ($80). I like jelly nails right now, and they ain’t cheap. I like to keep my nails long and almond-shaped, which means I have to get acrylics because I’ve never been able to grow my nails and keep them from breaking or getting uneven. I’m always looking at my hands, and if I have nice nails it creates a little moment of zen: they’re all colorful, all symmetrical, all in front of me. It just gives me happiness. My staple is red, always, but I also love to branch out. Right now I’m into neons, like pink and green.

My every-so-often skin-fixing treatments: $831 a year

I do a face mask once every one to two weeks, or a couple days before a shoot or a big event. My favorite trick is mixing Aztec Secret’s clay mask with apple cider vinegar—I get the clay on Amazon for like $10 a tub, and it can last you a really long time. My husband and I share it, and we go through maybe two tubs over the course of a year. You can mix it with water, but I prefer apple cider vinegar because it makes the consistency of the mud so much better and smoother. It takes off all the dead skin and creates a plumping effect too.

Sometimes I’ll also put on a lip mask before an event. I love the Skyn Iceland Lip Gels ($28), which are really plumping and smooth out your lips. I also do those great Dr. Dennis Gross exfoliating face wipe pads ($88) once a week, and Nads Facial Wax Strips ($10) to remove facial hair every two weeks.

I’m going to start getting a Pixel Perfect laser treatment once a year. I love it. I’ve only done it once so far, but it’s made my skin a lot smoother and more even-toned. I went to Natural Beauty Med Spa, and it’s pricey—about $500. I definitely want to keep doing it, though if I had to cut back, that would be the first thing to go because it’s such an expense. If you’re in the position to afford it, you have to check it out. It has five days of downtime, which is intense—you really have to stay inside and put on tons of Aquaphor ($10) for the first few days. I have kids so obviously I had to go outside to drop them at school, and I fully wore a balaclava and a sun hat! I looked insane but I didn’t care, because afterward you have baby skin. It’s so worth it. I also get a Hydrafacial ($175) at the same med-spa once or twice a year. It’s great for me because I have such dry skin and tend to build up a lot of dead skin and gunk.

My relaxation techniques: $637 a year

I get about three massages a year, which cost roughly $120 each time. There’s a woman I really like named Bria at Spa Soak in Wicker Park. If she’s not available, I’ll go to Allyu Spa. They have a really good range of masseuses there. And maybe two days a year I’ll have a Korean spa day at King Spa. It’s awesome because $35 will buy you an all-day pass.

I’m also big on candles and hot baths. Three to four times a week I’ll use a cup or so of epsom salt ($5), light a candle—currently I have a Diptyque Jasmine one ($65) by the bath—and just soak. I candle shop at Diptyque once a year. I’ve got one for the bathroom, one for the studio, one for downstairs. They’re all so good. My favorites are Jasmine, Feu de Bois, and Iris.

I also like to light palo santo ($7) in the mornings. It’s a very cleansing way to start the day, and I love the smell. I get it from a little wacky bookstore near my house called Space Oddities Chicago that sells vintage books, but also artwork from local artists, gemstones, candles, and tarot decks.

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